Aromatic Middle-Eastern Roast Chicken with Roasted Roots

From Ainsley’s Fantastic Flavours, ITV

Roast dinners always top the polls of the UK’s favourite family meals, and you can’t beat a good chicken roast. Brighten up your Sunday roast with this aromatic, za’atar and sumac spiced chicken. Served with my Roasted Roots it makes a lovely change from the usual chicken and spuds. Any leftovers are fantastic in wraps or with salad for lunchboxes the next day.


For the Chicken

In a bowl mix together the garlic, spices, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice and zest.

Put the chicken into a roasting tray. Mix half of the marinade with the butter. Loosen the skin of the chicken and carefully push the butter under the skin. Drizzle the outside of the chicken with olive oil and then rub the remaining spice marinade well into the meat. Season the chicken inside and out.

Put the remaining lemon half into the same bowl as the marinade. Squash around the bowl to gather up any remaining spice and flavour and then put the lemon half into the cavity of the chicken along with the thyme sprigs.

Cover the chicken and chill to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably longer if you have the time. Remove the chicken from the fridge at least 30 minutes before you want to cook it.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/gas 6

Cover the chicken loosely with foil and roast for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and baste the chicken. Return to the oven and cook uncovered for another 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (the juices from the thigh should run clear) and the skin is crispy and golden. Remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Meanwhile make the gravy. Skim off any excess oil from the surface of the cooking juices and place the roasting tin over a medium heat. Pour in the wine. Boil until reduced by half, scraping the base of the tin with a wooden spoon to release all of the caramelised sediment. Stir in the flour, then the chicken stock and boil once more until the gravy has reduced and is well flavoured. Stir in the lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Remove from the heat and pour the gravy through a sieve to discard any solids.

Serve the chicken scattered with fresh coriander and with my Roasted Roots.

For the Roasted Roots

Preheat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/Gas6.

Tip the vegetables, and garlic into a large roasting tin (keeping the beetroot in a separate tray if you prefer). Add the thyme sprigs, lemon wedges, sprinkle with the cumin and then drizzle generously with olive oil. Season well and toss to coat.

Roast for 25 minutes and then add the chestnuts and a drizzle of honey (if using). Toss, then return to the oven to cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender and golden, tossing occasionally. Squeeze the garlic and discard its papery skin. Spoon the vegetables onto a serving dish and serve immediately or at room temperature.



  • For the Chicken
  • 1 x 1.5kg chicken, cleaned inside and out and patted dry
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Za’atar spice blend
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper/pul biber
  • 1 lemon, (juice and zest of ½ and one ½)
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander, to serve
  • For the Gravy
  • 75ml of dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 300-400 ml of chicken stock
  • ½ lemon, for squeezing
  • For the Roasted Roots
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 2 large carrots, scraped and cut into quarters
  • 2 medium beetroot, scrubbed, top and tailed, cut into wedges
  • 1 large parsnip, cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • handful of precooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • runny honey, for drizzling (optional)